US Bishops, Other Denominations file Amicus Curiae Brief in Supreme Court Case of Arizona v. United States

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and several other Christian denominations filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Arizona vs. United States, supporting the principle that the federal government controls the enactment and implementation of the nation’s immigration laws. The March 26 brief argued that the federal government is in the best position to protect the well-established goals of family unity and human dignity in the nation’s immigration system.


The brief also made the case that a patchwork of state laws could inhibit the Church’s mission to serve immigrants, thus impinging upon religious liberty. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service joined the bishops in filing the brief.


Citing numerous examples of federal immigration policies designed to further family unity and human dignity, the brief argued that Arizona’s SB 1070 is not a solution to the problems in federal law and in fact creates more problems than it solves.


“The Conference has a strong interest in ensuring that courts adhere to two important goals of federal immigration law—the promotion of family unity and the protection of human dignity,” the brief stated.  “The provisions of SB 1070 at issue in this case would hinder these critical federal objectives by replacing them with the single goal of reducing the number of undocumented immigrants in Arizona at all costs.”


The brief said that state laws such as SB 1070 threaten to restrict the Church’s ability to provide pastoral and social service care to immigrants and their families, thus infringing upon the Church’s religious liberty.


“The Catholic Church’s religious faith, like that of many religious denominations, requires it to offer charity—ranging from soup kitchens to homeless shelters—to all in need, whether they are present in this country legally or not. Yet SB 1070 and related state immigration laws have provisions that could….criminalize this charity… [or] exclude from that charity all those whose presence Arizona and other states would criminalize,” the brief argued.


The brief asked the Supreme Court to affirm the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in striking down the Arizona law.


The brief is available online: